Despite rampant rumors that tied his disappearance to drug issues, the band said he was simply down with the flu.
“He’s got a tummy bug so he’s not very well,” Payne told “Today’s” Matt Lauer.
“We only found out this morning so we’re really sad, he is as well, that he can’t be here for our album release… It’s still going to be a great day, I’m sure,” the singer said.
Malik caused the hashtag “#GetWellSoonZayn” to trend worldwide on Twitter this morning.
NBC estimated that 15,000 fans were on hand at the resort park to hear the debut of the band’s fourth studio album, “Four,” which was broadcast live on NBC’s “Today” show.
The band made their first appearance on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Today” in 2012 and became the first big alternative to then teen sensation Justin Bieber. With this album, the band has now passed Bieber in albums released.
The boys say they are maturing and aren’t just a boy band any more.
“I think we’ve tried to make our music move with us a little bit, as we’ve gotten a little bit older and each album gets a little bit older,” said Tomlinson.
Once the concert got underway, the boys performed their hits “Steal My Girl,” “Best Song Ever” and “Little Things.”
Check out the “Today” intro and an interview with the lads below.